We’re in the business of brand purpose through the lens of leadership. That very idea means the leaders we work with bring an inspired sense of authenticity into our conversations. We are humbled by the stories we hear, which all point to the strength and beauty of the human spirit.
This Valentine’s week, we spent some time with Ian Bell of b&b partners worldwide. What can we say about Ian? He has a resume that would make any CMO green with envy. But he found himself at halftime (career and life) wanting more. That more now involves changing the world by helping companies see opportunities to leap into their greatness. He’s helped us do the same.
If you know Ian closely, you’ll also know he’s a treehugger on a climate change mission. He’s a man with a great heart and as we discovered a great love. He shared this Valentine’s poem that he co-wrote with a wonderful friend dedicated to his wife, Liz. It is something he’s been sitting on for a while but found the courage to jump. The most amazing part was that he permitted us to share it.
For Liz, on Valentine’s Day, 2021
I’m blessed in meeting you,
there’s no gainsaying it –
we both know it – back there in Sandgate,
all those years ago, holiday town
with its tide-washed, pebbly beach,
Martello towers shirt-fronting the Channel.
We were well-met through mutual friends,
he, my best man, and friend from childhood,
and she, who’s faded now into your past.
Not all things last.
We hooked up in a bar, of all places –
we were young, in our twenties,
where else would we be?
It was your shining eyes that drew me,
beauty without arrogance. Athletic,
full of boundless energy,
you could dance the night away.
It wasn’t easy, pursuing you,
getting your number, your father
a single dad standing guard
over three daughters (“You shall not pass.”)
I passed. I couldn’t let this chance go,
worked hard at the connection, commuting
between York and Derby. We joked
that I was your taxi.
And here we are still, antipodean now,
yin and yang, extrovert and introvert,
lassoed by love, together at Barangaroo.
Do you know what I adore? You, natural
in front of a mirror, at peace with yourself.
With you, it’s not all ‘I’ ‘I’ ‘I’, it’s ‘us’
and ‘we’, complementarity, family,
kindness, in the face of the world’s
selfishness. In spite of ups and downs,
not-so-easy sailing, life’s divisions,
You are the quietest of waves
washing over me.
It’s a beautiful poem that conveys his thoughtfulness. It shows he wouldn’t be the man and leader he is today without the quiet waves of Liz, keeping him steady when life takes its unexpected turns. More importantly, it reveals how courageous he is to share something so intimate to inspire us all to bring our whole self into our leadership.
What a wonderful way to end Valentine’s week 2021 with the thought that we can be leaders who love greatly and that’s okay. Thank you Ian for sharing your heartfelt poem and Liz, what a lucky lady you are.